Basically, I spend any available moment of any given day (i.e. When I’m not in the classroom) listening to music, so, I take in a fair mix of styles and genres. I readily admit to my fair share of mainstream listening; Blur, Bjork and Kendrick Lamar in particular of late, but I’m open minded and will give anything a chance, from new alternative releases to blasts from the past. So here’s what’s been on heavy rotation of late…
‘My Love is Cool’ is required listening, from the invitingly soft laid back vocal of opener ‘Turn to Dust’, through the Pixies inspired You’re a Germ’, past the poppy ‘Lisbon’ and onto the pure indie heaven of ‘Swallowtail’ and ‘Fuzzy’s feedback fury. Track after track of top quality songs full of nuances and complexities that make this a debut album of surprising depth that keeps me coming back for more. Quality.
Sam Duckworth’s Amazing Grace has been my go to album for the last couple of months when I want something a little more reflective and a little less noisy. I actually described it as being “like a warm hug from an old friend” when I first reviewed it, and time has just turned it into an older friend. The subtleties and atmospherics make for an interesting dynamic – perfect for end of the day headphone listening.
D’Angelo has been a playlist constant since Black Messiah’s surprise release at the back end of 2014. The politically charged album defies classification, buzzing around the fringes of funk, soul and R&B with a rocky edge to the guitar playing, D’Angelo’s smooth as honey voice understated and confident on this retro- familiar collection of percussion rich tunes. Modern classic.
Released in the middle of 2014, the reissue of Led Zeppelin II was a late Christmas present, and while I have more or less ignored the disc of extras, (I’m a great believer in the philosophy that if it was that good they’d’ve put it out before), it does have one or two moments of note like the rough mixes of ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘Ramble On’ and the interesting ‘La La’. ‘Whole Lotta Love’ without the guitar solo makes for excruciating listening though! However, coming back to the original was like catching up with a childhood friend and chatting like it was just yesterday. Now we get together a couple of times a month because it is without a doubt still one of the finest collections of songs ever recorded – all killer, no filler.
LONELY THE BRAVE
I’m not entirely sure why I can’t stop playing this record, but I just keep going back to Lonely the Brave’s The Day’s War (Victory Edition). I guess it’s the measured approach to their fearless song writing – they’re not afraid to talk about how they feel and explore their own sound – I suppose there’s a kinda naked honesty that I find endearing, even on the redux versions and extra tracks. There’s been all kinds of comparisons to the likes of Biffy Clyro but LTB possess a much more robust sound, both instrumentally and vocally, which gives the music a strength that is rarely found theses days. They will be enormous.
MARY J. BLIGE
Don’t know if this counts as a guilty pleasure, especially given that she played Glastonbury this year, but I do love a bit of Mary J. and London Sessions has given a welcome reboot to her career. The collaborations with the likes of Disclosure and Emeli Sandé have reinvigorated her sound and though there are a couple of throwaways, killer moments like the intense ‘Whole Damn Year’, the retro ‘Therapy’ and the clubby ‘Follow’ make it worth repeated listens.